From March 14th through the 17th, I was in gorgeous Riviera Maya, Mexico for ODESZA and Foreign Family’s inaugural Sundara festival. It was easily one of the best weekends of my life, and went by way too quickly. I would love to return every year this festival happens, and I absolutely encourage you to attend too. While the festival may have not been “perfect” it was pretty damn close.
The Venue. Barcelo Maya Beach Resort was absolutely gorgeous. It was right on the beach, and of course, all-inclusive. The main stage was right on the water, and the day parties were held at the biggest pool on property. For the late night shows, guests were bussed over to the Barcelo Maya Beach’s sister resort, the Barcelo Maya Palace. And, getting to go home each night to a freshly made bed was such a welcomed change from camping festivals. Pro tip: if the festival happens at this same venue next year, request a room in the Tulum building, as it’s the closest to the main stage.
The Staff. The Barcelo staff were so helpful and attentive, I felt SO spoiled. Like, I didn’t feel as though I deserved to be there. Guests never actually had to lift a finger to do anything, as staff were all so willing to serve in whatever way possible. From helping with luggage, making strong drinks, and even doing henna during the pool parties-we never went without.
The Unlimited Alcohol. Enough said. Really. For the price you’re paying, which may seem steep, you can really get your money’s worth if you love to drink. And I love to drink. I 100% lived off of tequila, pina coladas, and Modelo all weekend, and you know what? No regrets. There are bars scattered across the property, and all of them have kegs available where you can pour your own beer. A-maze-ing. On top of that, the staff are seriously walking around the entire day with trays full of drinks. A dream.
The Music. Mmmm, this lineup was exactly what I needed. Of course, Rufus Du Sol soothed my soul like always, and ODESZA blew my mind. I can’t believe it had actually been FOUR YEARS since I last caught an ODESZA set. Shameful! Alison Wonderland and RL Grime had a late night B2B that was deliciously grimey and got my head bangin’ like I was 19 again. Golden Features even threw some much needed house music into the mix, too. The lineup was seriously curated so well, and had a lot of diversity (including three female headliners-woo!). Getting to see two sets from most of the artists, and then partying with said artists in the crowd, really made it feel like we were all one big community, too.
The People. Like any festival experience, getting to connect with like-minded music lovers is arguably the best part. It was so easy to approach people and strike up a conversation, even in the airport on the way to the festival. I walked away from Sundara with a new group of friends from all around the country that are hilarious, kind, and know how to dance their asses off!
The Price. I will be totally transparent with you guys. Sundara was definitely an investment. For those of us who split a room to four people, the ticket ended up costing a nice $1.5k- which was the cheapest option available. However the festival offered a payment plan over 4 months, which made it A LOT easier. Definitely do the payment plan. If you’re making the most of the experience- drinking all of the drinks, eating all of the food, and catching as many sets as possible, it is absolutely worth the cost. But keep in mind that flights and off-property excursions are not included in this.
The Schedule. While I was never short on excitement, there were some gaps in the schedule that I think could have been filled with either more beach activities or bringing more artists onto the lineup. The flipside of this was that it actually forced me to take breaks to get cleaned up and eat something with substance.
The Sunburns. Ha.Ha. This one is nobody’s fault but my own. It is so easy to get carried away and not remember the most important thing: SUN PROTECTION. The weather was actually perfect in Riviera Maya, but the sun is BRIGHT- so plan accordingly. Make sure to bring reef-safe sunscreen, like Zinka, that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.
The Food. I am far from a foodie, but man…that was rough. Granted, I didn’t end up making reservations for any of the “nice” restaurants on property, but all of the “All You Can Eat” buffets were pretty bizarre. Like, at one point I had a donut, a taquito, a croissant, a piece of mystery fish, and sauteed mushrooms on my plate for breakfast… alongside a hefty mimosa, of course. The lunch and late night buffets were #basic too- giving us the option of gas stationeqsue hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and cheese fries (not the good kind, either). Don’t expect to attend this resort and eat like a Queen, or to even eat much traditional Mexican food, because you will be disappointed.
The People. No, this is not a mistake. While the majority of Sundara was filled with cool people I will remain connected to, there were some people that just didn’t get “It”. And by “It”- I mean how to set limits. On night one, I had two people that partied too hard pass out in the crowd right next to me, and had to be put on stretchers and checked out by EMT’s. The next day, while walking to my room, I had to walk past a pile of throw up and a room that people were viciously smoking cigarettes in. And to those people I say: do better, fam. It isn’t that hard to be respectful.
Overall, Sundara was absolutely worth the time and money spent. I look forward to making this festival a tradition, and recommend to all who are looking for a vacation that is the perfect mix of partay and relaxation. See you next year!
All photos by: Don Idio / @Divisuals